Heroic dog Balto turns 100 at the Natural History Museum

Balto’s 100th Birthday at the Cleveland Museum of Natural HistoryMarch 2nd, from 10am – 5pm

Balto, the dog that helped save the city of Nome, Alaska from deadly disease, is celebrating what would have been his 100th birthday this Saturday.

That’s 575 years old in dog years.

Sled team leader Gunner Kaasen poses with Balto.

A Heroic Adventure

In 1925, doctors realized that an outbreak of deadly diphtheria epidemic was about to sweep through Nome’s children. The serum that could prevent the virus was in the Alaskan capitol of Anchorage. The only plane that could transport the serum quickly was frozen over, so the next viable option were sled dog teams, led by Balto.

The mission was successful, and Balto, thanks to the breathless news coverage of radio and newspapers, became a major celebrity. He was given a hero’s welcome and his own statue when he arrived in New York the following year, as famous as any movie star.

After several years, the public moved on. Balto found himself sold to a cheap Los Angeles sideshow, chained and mistreated. Clevelander  and prizefighter George Kimble came across Balto on a visit to California. Angered by the treatment the dog was receiving, he successfully implored the newspapers and businesses of Cleveland to help him raise over $2,000 to buy Balto, and bring him to Cleveland for medical treatment.

Balto lived out the rest of his days happily in Cleveland, and upon his death in 1933 at age 14, was stuffed and put on display at the Museum of Natural History, where he still resides today.

Balto at the Natural History Museum

Where to see Balto for his birthday celebration

Visitors to the Museum can wish Balto a Happy Birthday on March 2nd, and see special presentations about the heroic dog. A junior Ididarod will be held, and the Animal Protective League will be visiting with ready-to-adopt pets on site.

Admission is $17 for adults, $14 for youth (3-17 years), age 3 and under is free.

From snowy chill to flowers in bloom: Just down the street is the still-running Orchid Mania at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.